David Ortiz’s lawyer says former slugger ‘is innocent in what happened’
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — As authorities prepared to reveal on Wednesday the results of their preliminary investigation into the shooting of David Ortiz, the lawyer for the retired Red Sox slugger said that his client was an innocent victim and that he certainly would return to visit his home country when he recovers.
The lawyer, José Martínez Hoepelman, said he had been briefed by Dominican authorities on their investigation and he is satisfied with the results. He was planning to fly to Boston to relay to Ortiz the findings, which he declined to publicly detail.
“I can say that David Ortiz is innocent in what happened. He has no connection to illicit activities, no relationships with people who have criminal connections, nor has he violated his family values that would bring about such an incident,” Hoepelman said in an interview with the Globe Tuesday.
Authorities plan to disclose the results of the investigation Wednesday at the attorney general’s office in the Dominican Republic.
“We’ll share all the details,” Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez told reporters Tuesday.
Earlier Tuesday, Dominican authorities said they had arrested an 11th suspect in the attempted killing of Ortiz.
Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Franklin Yunior Merán, also known as “Rubirosa.”
A Dominican newspaper, Listin Diario, reported that Merán allegedly rented one of the cars used in the plot, citing police sources.
Merán was arrested Monday. Under Dominican law, authorities must bring him before a judge within two days.
Nine people, including the alleged gunman, were indicted on Friday on charges connected to the shooting.
A 10th suspect who was already in custody, Gabriel Alexander Perez Vizcaino, 24, was charged Monday for his alleged role in plotting the attack.
Authorities said they have arrested the alleged gunman, Rolfi Ferreras Cruz, 25. Cruz has said Ortiz was not the intended target, but authorities reject that claim.
In the interview Tuesday, Ortiz’s lawyer said he believes three more suspects are still at large.
“Almost all of the people involved [in the shooting plot] have already been arrested,” he said. “Almost all of them.”
Authorities have said the conspirators were hired to kill Ortiz for approximately $7,800.
Multiple suspects remain at large, according to a spokesman for the prosecutors, including the man who authorities said planned to provide the money.
Investigators have not identified the person who ordered the hit or commented on a potential motive.
Ortiz, 43, was shot in the back at close range as he sat with friends on the patio of the Dial Bar and Lounge on the evening of June 9.
He continues to recuperate from injuries to his intestines and liver in Massachusetts General Hospital, where he arrived last Monday.
“What I can tell you is that I’m satisfied with the work the authorities have done so far. Obviously I have to wait to see what the family thinks, but as a lawyer, I’m happy with the work the authorities have done so far,” Hoepelman told the Globe.
He dismissed rumors about the cause of the shooting as cheap gossip, emphasizing that Ortiz is a man of “family values and no enemies.”
He said the rumors, which have spread throughout social media and in tabloid newspapers, created “confusion” and were “not based in fact.”
“That’s why we need to wait for authorities to give the official version, which will clearly be based on irrefutable evidence,” Hoepelman said.
“That will put an end to this story,” he added.
He added: “David isn’t the type of person to have enemies.”
Asked whether Ortiz would feel safe enough to return to his homeland, Hoepelman said he expects he will.
The lawyer added that “without a doubt, David Ortiz loves the Dominican Republic and he will return to his country once he’s recuperated.”
He urged fans to keep the faith.
“David Ortiz is a real-life idol,” he said. “Don’t let this bad incident stain a life of service.”
Earlier Tuesday, Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany, said that her husband’s condition had been upgraded to good.
In a statement, she said her family remains “grateful to everyone who has helped David through this ordeal, both in the Dominican Republic and here in Boston. David’s journey to good health has been bolstered by the many expressions of love that have come to us from across the globe. Your support has lifted his spirits tremendously during this challenging time.”
The statement appeared on Tiffany Ortiz’s Instagram page, and hundreds of people replied with messages of support, including Amber Sabathia, the wife of New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia.
“Hope you and kiddos are also doing well, sending strength and Hugs to the whole family,” Amber Sabathia wrote. “I can’t imagine how hard this has been for all of you . . . hope you have a comfy seat in [the] ICU, I know you haven’t left his side.”